India has an unparalleled antiquity of dance traditions. Each regions has evolved a distinctive style of music and dance at different levels of society. There are thus tribal, folk, village and classical dances in each region of India. The history of these dances can be traced back to the civilization of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa: their community can be observed in their rich variegated manifestations in different States of India. From amongst these innumerable dances styles have emerged siz major dance forms, which are today known as classical dances of India. These dance styles are supported by literary and sculptural evidence and their history can be reconstructed from the poetic hymns of the Vedas and lyrics of the regional languages. Most of these styles draw their textual sanction from the Natyasastra written between the 2nd century B.C and 2nd century A.D. In the course of time each of these styles followed other texts written between the 8th and 17th century A.D. All these styles, however, have a common division of dance into pure or abstract dance and mime on the one hand and Tandeva and Lasya on the other.
Bharata Natyam developed in South India in its present form about two hundred years ago. While its poses are reminiscent of sculpture of the 10th century A.D. onwards, the thematic and musical content was given to it by musicians of the Tanjore courts of the 18th-19th centuries. It is characterized by straight lines, diagonals, triangles which are basic motifs for executing movements, as also patterns of floor choreography.
Odissi is a close parallel of Bharata Natyam. It developed from musical play (sangita-nataka) and the dances of gymnasiums known as the akharas Sculptural evidence relating to the dance goes back to 2nd century B.C. From, the 12th century onwards there are inscriptions, manuscripts, and other records which speak of the prevalence of Orissi dance styles of ritual dances of temples and entertainments of the village squares.
Kathak from North India is the urban sophisticated style full of virtuosity and intricate craftsmanship. Commonly identified with the court traditions of the later Nawabs of Northern India, it is really an amalgam of several folk traditions; the traditional dance-drama forms prevalent in the temples of Mathura and Brindavan known as the Krishna and Radha Lilas and the sophistication of court tradition.
1.00 Rupee - Kathakali
Kathakali from Kerala is classical dance drama. It is quite different from any of the forms described above. Unlike the others, it is dramatic rather than narratives in character. Different roles are taken by different characters; the dancers are all men or were so, till recently. It takes epic mythological themes as its content and portrays them through an elaborate dramatic spectacle which is characterised by an otherworldly quality, a supernatural grandeur, a stylised over-size costume to give the impression of enlarging human proportions and a mask like make-up on the face which is governed by a complex symbolism of colour, line, and design.
1.50 Rupee - Kuchipudi
Closely related to Bharata Natyam is the dance style which is prevalent in Andhra Pradesh. It is sometimes called Kuchipudi, after the name of the village, or Bhama Kalapam (the story of Bhama, a consort of Khrisna). In this style there is a thin line of demarcation between dance-drama traditions of Bhama Kalapam and the solo-Kuchipudi. While the basic stance, the foot contacts and the general pattern of treating the human form is very close to Bharata Natyam, the style is freer and to that extent less austere than Bharata Natyam.
Manipuri is a lyrical dance form from the eastern region of India. Although many forms of ritual, magical, community, and religious dances were known to Manipur before the advent of Vaishnava faith in the 18th century, the dances today known as Manipuri and specially its Rasa evolved as a result of the interaction of the Vaishnava cult and the several highly developed forms of ritual and religious dances which were prevalent in the area from times, immemorial.